The Light Dweller ISBN: 9780692888582, an e-book novel by Miguel Lopez de Leon.
Plot: Ben Winter is a 12-year-old boy who has been repeatedly bullied at school and has parents that feel ‘he should learn to fight back’, a reaction that is not available to him for a number of reasons. Suddenly, his grandmother passes away and they move across the country to her huge, very old home. He still is left pretty much alone by his parents and explores only to discover the house had fascinating cellar rooms that, in turn, lead further downward into intriguing tunnels. While exploring, he suddenly loses his footing and falls into a fast-moving underground river that carries him at a sometimes startling pace deeper and deeper into the earth. Finally the river slows and he comes upon a lake guarded by a huge watery warrior. From this discovery the youngster is thrown into a remarkable series of adventures with visitations from his first arrival at the City/State of Gren to Cindel, where the inhabitants are mushroom-like characters who communicate by mental telepathy; to Depthis, inhabited by humanoid sea creatures; and Rist, the land populated by Lost Children who viciously control the individual’s mind. Successfully completing the journey, he arrives back only to discover Gren to be under attack by shadowy zombies and the story proceeds to an end with a perfect position from which to launch a sequel.
Discussion: Miguel Lopez Di Leon is well known for his stories about, and for, young readers and again has provided interestingly portrayed characters in most unusual settings and has moved them through a story that maintains a fast-moving pace. It fundamentally is a story of a lonely young boy caught in a never-ending battle between light and darkness is able to make and follow decisions to ‘do the right thing’ to triumph over adversity.
5* for targeted audience
Humanity’s Way Forward, The Edge of the Known – Book Three ISBN: 9781503166462, an e-book by Seth Mullins.
Plot: Brandon Chane from the small town of Sadenport, Oregon, suddenly explodes to superstar status in the tumultuous world of modern music. His rise is unexpectedly sudden and dependent upon a fine blending of serendipity, a shrewd manager and his remarkable ability both as a musician and to write beautifully descriptive poetry/lyrics. These latter are more especially the compelling factors in the band’s ascension because he can express thoughts of hope and despair that reach and vibrate in the minds of the young audiences now searching for the “underground music for listeners tired of being offered nothing but those from big business.” Journalisms’ coverage describes his ability as similar to a Shaman – “…put forth a dream that others can share in, so they become like a kind of tribe with a sense of unity”. Brandon is somewhat adverse to their description but admits that “Throughout our time in the studio, Tommy, Carlos and I transformed into mythic versions of ourselves; personalities that, though still grounded in the world of “facts”, nevertheless felt, at our backs, the will and creative outcry of a reality that was too deep, wide and unfathomable to be contained within any realm of fact.” His negativity toward being labeled a Shaman unfortunately is just one of many of the problems suffered by this very mentally disturbed individual who apparently had suffered greatly from a lack of familial closeness. He believed his mother had just ‘given up’ and died leaving him alone with an abusive father – a belief credibly understandable in an individual prone to the greater emotional sensitivity frequently attributed to persons of poetic and and/or musical abilities. The tale continues through much introspective activity by Brandon as the tours progress, introduces a number of interesting supportive characters and ends with an understandable conclusion. Additionally, although this is the third volume in the series, it stands well by itself.
Discussion: The author has provided perhaps the most comprehensible description/explanation for and of the seemingly mass hysteria that often accompanies performances of today’s performers of so-called underground or alternative music and of the performers themselves. They and their followers are of the generation(s) that never have acquired a firm basis upon which to build a life. For the abused the reaction is most easily understood. However what of the large numbers of these persons who are not from this group – those from the middle and upper strata of society? Perhaps a simple answer suffices. They never found the necessity of building a firm base because they have been provided with most of the amenities for teen-age life with seldom a denial. Thus, when they are faced with the uncertainties and turmoil rampant in today’s simple act of living – economic uncertainty, political unrest, angst, loss, conflict – they are lost and looking desperately for an answer, ANY answer and will “… accept an answer not so much because it is true but rather because it saves them from the discomfort of living an uncertainty.” “That’s pop culture for you and I’m speaking as one who was beloved by it.” Success came as a modern age witch doctor and “Songs addressed the crucial questions of what life and death were all about.”
Summary: An engaging tale of modern music, its performance and of a performer hungry to be heard, but strangely adverse to the attendant fame.
5* Fascinating examination of pop culture in a fictional offering.